I believe that you’re never too old to stop learning. It’s just that some of us older folks need more than one lesson.
I received a harsh lesson in bovine behavior recently that left me feeling rather lucky and also a little more cautious. I consider it to be an extended lesson in physics combined with a physical education class that got a little out of control.
Recently I was loading some of our Scottish Highland cattle onto a trailer. Most of these cows have never seen the inside of a trailer, much less the inside of a shed. Thankfully we had a good loading location between two concrete walls and used plenty of patience.
It was only the cattle hauler and myself loading, but we got two cows and the big bull loaded with no problem — they were locked into the front of the trailer. I cut out one more cow to be loaded.
Both of us had eight-foot gate panels that we used to pinch down on the cow, giving her the only option of climbing into the trailer.
That was the theory anyway. This cow had another plan in mind.
I’m not a big guy — 5-foot-9, 170 pounds — but I can hold my own. Highland cows aren’t the largest bovines — they go about 700 to 800 pounds. But when a cow turns around, puts her head down and charges, the weight ratio of cow-to-man is no contest.
That’s exactly what this cow did. She turned on me and drove me back about 20 feet until I fell against a fence. She put a big dent in the gate and in my pride, along with a couple of bruises on my forearm. It could have been much worse — at least I wasn’t trampled.
“Are you OK?” the cattle hauler asked.
“Yep,” I said, rubbing my arm and checking for broken bones. But I had enough cattle loading for that day. “She’s staying.”
The rest of that day was spent rounding up appliances and other big household goods as we helped my son and daughter-in-law Ross and Lucy move a couple of pickup loads to a new house.
The next day the bullheaded bovine tried a similar escape tactic but was rebuffed by a stouter gate. She and three others were trailered a few hundred yards to their winter feeding area, where she immediately got into mischief when she picked some twine off a post and wrapped it around her horns.
She sure knows what strings to pull.
Our recent water woes took a different turn last week — and it wasn’t for the better. We had plugged water lines.
Recently we had a power outage that lasted for a few hours. When the well pump kicked back on, it created a water hammer in our pipes. That knocked loose some of the scale inside the pipes, which then plugged toilets and faucets.
I can do some basic plumbing, but this required a professional visit — on a weekend to boot. Thankfully we have excellent plumbers and they came out right away. I watched them work so perhaps I can do the repairs the next time this happens.
We are blessed with excellent water, but sometimes we get a little sand. We installed a sand filter a few years ago but the plumbers explained the source of this scale comes from a buildup inside the copper pipes on the other side of the filter.
Since then I’ve had to unplug the washing machine and I’m working on a toilet that’s running very slow. So far the toilet has stumped me, but I am, after all, a slow learner. Unfortunately it looks like there will opportunities for repeat lessons.